Many of us would like to learn a foreign language, but we don't want to make time for it. Like many Budget Travel readers, I compromise by trying to learn at least a few relevant foreign phrases before I take a trip abroad. I practice saying "please," "thank you," and "pardon me" in the native language. "Where is the bathroom?" is also useful. So far, I can also say "It's a lovely day" in Russian and curse pretty well in Spanish.
There are tools to help you learn the basics of foreign languages, like a PDA loaded with a dictionary, and ICOON, a book of 76 pages of pictures of things such as different foods, a toothbrush, and a T-shirt.
But if you don't want to avoid learning a language and you do want to get beyond "please," there's a new free tool you might enjoy: learn10.com. Basically, the site gives you 10 words a day in any of 20 languages, including French, Czech, Korean, and Welsh. English is the second most popular, after Spanish.
You receive your 10-word list via e-mail or Twitter feed. (For example, here’s a link to the Russian page on Twitter: twitter.com/learnrussian.) You can have your vocab posted to your Facebook page, too.
At the website you can click to hear how the words are pronounced—you can hear one word a day for free; for more than that, you need to set up premium account for $10 per month.
Be warned: There will be a test! Well, only if you click the Test button. You didn't have that kind of choice in high school.
Another nice feature is the Directory button, which displays a list of other online resources for learning your chosen language.